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Passionate tango in La Boca

Back home… grmbl…

“Argentina – A land of extremes. Snow and burning sun. City and wilderness. Tradition and innovation. Here you can predict nothing, but be prepared for everything. Life’s tough, passionate. Real.”
~ Text on a bottle of Argento white wine

I notice how I’m typing errors on this azerty keyboard.  Funny how fast you adjust to things.  Just like how we’ll soon adjust again to being back home in rainy Belgium.  But not just yet. Right now it’s still “grmbl… we want back to the country of the tango.”
We got back yesterday noon after almost a full day of travelling.  My brother Roel picked us up from the airport where we said goodbye to the rest of the group.  Once home, I could hold Gert and Jonathan back in my arms.  And my brother Frank and his wife Inge joined us as well.  All together we shared a glass of champagne while mum and I enthusiastically told stories, pictures and videos of our journey.  With the kids, we went for a nice pizza in Da Fausto and talked and laughed some more.  It’s good to be back, even if you can hear the nostalgia in our voice.

Friday we left Iguazu behind to head back to the capital.  Once again, we encountered problems in the airport.  This time the flight wasn’t late, no it didn’t even exist! We were pretty pissed off at the idea of losing our last day in Argentina. Fortunately we could fly to Buenos Aires after all with a flight at 11am, arriving 2 hours later.  We dropped off our luggage in the same Mari Plaza Hotel and immediately called for two taxis to drive us to La Boca.  The weather was great – again – as we strolled down the cozy streets with the colourful houses.  Tango dancing couples attracted tourists to the bars and artists tried to sell their aquarel paintings of the neighborhood.  The women frantically shopped for souvenirs as the men drank one last Quilmes cerveza.  In the late afternoon we headed towards Dorego plaza in San Telmo. We found a lovely restaurant with a roof terrace overlooking the plaza, where we had a last bife de lome con patas fritas. After a drink on the plaza, the group wanted to go to bed, though it was only 10pm.  Els & I clearly had too much energy to go to sleep and since we were going to spend most of the next Saturday in airplanes and airports, we preferred to head home very tired.  So I finally used my gay map of Buenos Aires and searched for the way to the nearest disco Angel’s.  A few young boys curiously watched our arrival and helped us get a voucher to get a reduction at the entrance. The disco had two dance floors, one electronica and one latino.  We joined the latino boys and danced and enjoyed ourselves till 4am. Nothing better to conclude a great trip than a great night out.

Saturday our transfer picked us up at the hotel at noon.  Our plane, scheduled for 3pm, already had a delay of 1,5 hour.  The good thing was that the flight was only half full so everyone had two or more seats to find a sleeping position for the night.  It was almost 8am CET when we arrived in Madrid, with just enough time to trnsfer to our final flight back to Brussels.  When we had left Buenos Aires, it had started raining a bit, giving us the hope that we would be able to take the good weather home.  Unfortunately none of that came true, as the rain and cold welcomed us in our home country.  And although the sun was coming out this morning, clouds are gathering at this very moment.

I’m waiting for the car service to arrive to tow my car, which has problems to start.  Hopefully I got a car to go to work today.  Holiday’s clearly over…

Concerto for Butterflies

Gorgeous Gargante

Beauty of the Falls

For the readers of this blog it must be funny to see us wrapped up in warm clothes at the Perito Moreno glacier in one post and then sweating it out at the waterfalls in the next. Ever since leaving Buenos Aires, now 2,5 weeks ago, we were looking forward to the warm climate of Iguazu in our final days of this trip.  Now that we’re here, we don’t remember why ;-)  No seriously, we’re enjoying the 30+ temperatures even though it means using a lot of sun cream and even more DEET against the insects.

After our first half day, installing and relaxing in Iguazu, we’ve spend yesterday and today visiting the famous waterfalls.
Yesterday we crossed the border to Brazil to watch them from that side.  Of course that meant going through customs first and getting a Brazilian stamp in our passport (yay!).  Then our Brazilian guide Eugenio took us to all the different balconies that give a view on the many waterfalls, and finally to the big highlight Gargante del Diabolo, the Devil’s Throat, where the water storms down in the depths of the canyon with great violence.
Of course, it was a very touristic place, and much like in El Calafate, we’ve had to literally push the tourists out of our pictures to get some great shots.  Again, I made some small videos to better capture the scenery and atmosphere.  Those who are really interested will have to be patient for a few more days because I will be adding them once we’re at home.  Connections here are way too slow. Even finding a cybercafe that actually has Internet connection today and a PC that is free, is an adventure in itself, much like when we have to search for an ATM machine that works and still contains money.  In countries like these, you realise we take too many things for granted.
Back to the falls.  Today we visited the Argentinian side.  As Eugenio yesterday said “At the Brazilian side you can see the falls, at the Argentinian side you can feel the falls.” And that we did!  First we went back to the Gargante del Diabolo.  From this side we could come very close, from above.  The way the water stormed downwards created a cloud of steam circling upwards unto an otherwise clear blue sky.  Our Argentinian guide Maria-Louise, who could hardly speak english, then took us to some other smaller waterfalls, among which the Dos Hermanas (“Two sisters”), named to the 2 daughters Elsa and Maria of the first president of Argentina.  Of course we took a nice picture of our Elsa in front of these.
In the afternoon we were up for some adventure. A motorboat brought us very close to the waterfalls to have a fantastic view… and a great shower to cool off!  To the loud enthusiasm of the crowd, they navigated the boat almost underneath one of the falls, splashing and refreshing us all.  Yes, in Argentina you can FEEL the falls!

During our visits we encountered a lot of animals.  Since the beginning of our trip, mum had asked about the coati’s, the animal that lend its name to our travel agency Coatimundi. Here we finally got to see them (6th picture below).  Of course, the tropical climate provided a lot of insects and reptiles, including large ants and spiders, grasshoppers (4th picture), salamanders and lots and lots of colourful butterflies.  High above the waterfalls we could see vultures circling around.  And in the bird parc on the Brazilian side, we watched parrots, owls, flamingos and of course the funny toucans.

The f***ing airconditioning in the bedroom not only kept us awake with its noice, but also paralyzed my neck and shoulder for most of the day, ruining a part of the experience for me.  Fortunately the adrenaline of the boat trip healed most of it.  Mum had some pain in her knee the past few days, and like with most of the group the fatigue is now kicking in.  Good thing that we were back at 4pm today, allowing us some rest at the pool before going for an aperitive and a nice dinner. The past 2 nights we went to the same restaurant Agua, because the food and the service was so splendid.  Tonight we’ll look out for something new to end our Iguazu trip in beauty.

Tomorrow we have our flight to Buenos Aires already at 10am.  We have the rest of the afternoon and evening to visit again La Boca and enjoy a nice terrace.  It will be our last day, because Saturday only consists of busy airports and crowded airplanes…
Most likely my next blog will be coming from the cold Belgium again (grmbl) but like I said, the die hards will get some more surprises!

Arrived in Iguazu… after all

We left the glaciers and icey wind behind and got to the tropical climate of Iguazu.  Even if it’s one day later than expected.
Yesterday we were supposed to fly from south to north in one day.  But when our first flight had an hour and a half delay, we already knew we wouldn’t catch our connection in Buenos Aires.  Our flight made a stop in Ushaia, and eventhough we couldn’t leave the plane, we had a nice view on the most southern city of Argentina and its coastline.  So we can say we’ve been there too!
It was late in the afternoon when we finally arrived in the capital, and after the calm Bariloche and El Calafate we had already forgotten how hot and busy it was.  We were lucky that LAN airlines was taking good care of us.  After all it was their fault we were stranded.  But we didn’t complain when they offered us a night in the **** Hotel Presidente on the main avenue of Buenos Aires.  Hotel personnel carried our bags to the room, in an incredible contrast with the way we spend our days at the estancias in Patagonia.  We surprised Denise and Flor with a glass of champagne for their 35th wedding anniversary.  And once installed and refreshed we enjoyed a nice dinner, also offered by LAN.  Afterwards we went into town for a glass of Quirmes in the oldest cafe of the city (the name escapes me now).
This morning we could sleep in and enjoy the large breakfast buffet, filled with pancakes, omelette, croissants, fresh fruit and lots of sweets.  Mum said “Alleen jammer dat ze geen hesp hebben…”  and less than 2 minutes later the lady came with a plate of ham to our table… Had she understood?
Our flight was at 11.30 and took us to Iguazu in less than 2 hours.  Fortunately the transfer ride was waiting for us and brought us to the *** Alexander Hotel.  Compared to Hotel Presidente it deserves a lot less stars, but then again we’re now in a lot poorer area than Buenos Aires.  But the rooms are OK and we have a pool in a nice garden.
We’ve strolled down to the small village center and stopped at a nice terrass for some empanadas.  A big old TV played a DVD with video clips of the 60s to the 90s, so we had fun guessing the artists and reliving the nostalgia.
We’ve booked our last big trip, which consists of a visit of the waterfalls on the Brazilian side (tomorrow) and on the Argentinian side (Thursday) and a boat trip. We’re realizing the days are now almost running out so we’re enjoying every moment.  It will be difficult to be back in Belgium…  so we’re trying not to think of that yet.
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